MAPUTO, The amount of cargo handled by the port of Maputo rose from14.9 million tonnes in 2016 to 18.2 million tonnes in 2017, an increase of 22 per cent, according to the consortium operating the port, the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC).

It said in a media statement here Monday that the increase resulted from the dredging of the port access channel, which was completed in January 2017, increasing its depth from 11 to 14.2 metres. Until the channel was dredged, the largest size ship which could enter the country’s main port was about 55,000 tonnes.

The dredging increased the cargo handling capacity at the port by 40 per cent, and the capacity of the Matola end of the port by 55 per cent, according to MPDC managing director Osorio Lucas. The largest ship which used the port in 2017 was the bulk carrier MV Amani, carrying 96,400 tonnes of magnetite.

The number of ships which used the port declined from 955 in 2016 to 896 in 2017 but the ships carried an additional 3.3 million tonnes of cargo.

The Matola Coal Terminal began to rehabilitate its quay in July 2017, increasing its depth to 15.4 metres. It can now receive ships of up to 275 metres long, with 14.5 metres draught at low tide, and 15.5 metres at high tide.

The average amount of coal loaded on a ship at the terminal is now 85,000 tonnes. The rehabilitation of the quay, plus improvements to the railway from South Africa to the port, allowed the terminal to handle a record 5.3 million tonnes of coal in 2017.

In 2017 the container terminal began expanding its capacity from 150,000 to 250,000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units). This expansion should be completed in the first half of this year. The second phase of expansion, depending on market demand, could see an increase in capacity to 450,000 TEUs.

This year, MPDC plans to rehabilitate four obsolete quays, with a total length of 1,058 metres. This is a major project that marks the last of the great steps laid down in the Maputo Port Master Plan,” said Lucas, The rehabilitation will not only create quays with depths of up to 15 metres, but will improve the rate of occupation of the berths, by creating a greater mooring area.

MPDC is also building a terminal to receive cruise ships, which should be completed by March. According to the statement, this new terminal will make it possible to receive passengers from the cruise ships with greater dignity.

MPDC is a partnership between Mozambique’s publicly owned ports and rail company, CFM, DP World of Dubai, Grindrod of South Africa, and the Mozambican private company Mozambique Gestores.